Members' Expenses

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th May 1954.

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Photo of Mr John Arbuthnot Mr John Arbuthnot , Dover 12:00 am, 13th May 1954

The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) suggested that the Government and the Chancellor of the Exchequer were considering the matter from the point of view of electoral odium, but electoral odium does not enter into it at all. He also accused my right hon. Friend of lacking courage. But by far the easiest thing for my right hon. Friend to do would have been for him to say, "This is what you have asked for. I will give it." It is because my right hon. Friend is a man of courage and realises that there are far greater implications behind this matter than the actual sum involved that he has taken the line which he has adopted today.

A far bigger issue is involved than the amount of money which might be paid to hon. Members. We are being asked to increase the emoluments or the expenses of Members at a time when the nation is just coming through an economic crisis, at a time when we have old-age pensioners on 32s. 6d. a week, and when it is of vital importance for the future health and prosperity of the nation that the over-pressing burden of taxation should be reduced.

This is the time at which we—the Mother of Parliaments—the leaders of the nation, are being asked to increase our own expenses allowance or to increase our own emoluments. The repercussions of that throughout the country from the point of view of other people who are on fixed incomes and who are in greater need than Members of Parliament will be enormous. People in the lower income groups are very hard up against it at the present moment, and I feel that the Chancellor would have every cause to complain if he felt so inclined at the inconsistency of—